AFRICA/DR CONGO - The strange coup in Kinshasa

Monday, 20 May 2024 coup  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "The situation is calm, there are no traffic restrictions and the airport is functioning normally", say local sources, regarding the situation in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where in the early hours of Sunday, 19 May, an attempted coup took place, which was thwarted by the army. According to Congolese authorities, a group of at least 20 armed men in combat gear attacked the "Palace of the Nation" where President Félix Tshisekedi's offices are located after attacking the nearby home of Economy Minister, Vital Kamerhe. In the shootout with the regular military, at least three attackers lost their lives (as well as two police officers guarding the economy Minister's house), including their leader Christian Malanga Musumari, while the remaining members of the command were arrested. Among them were Malanga's son, 22-year-old Marcel, as well as several US citizens and at least one British citizen. Christian Malanga Musumari was the leader of a small political party he founded, the US-registered United Congolese Party (UCP). Malanga came to the United States as a refugee in 1998 and settled in the state of Utah, where he lived until 2006. That year he returned to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he served in the military and achieved the rank of captain. In 2011 he ran in the opposition in the parliamentary elections, but was arrested before the election. In 2012 he returned to the United States and founded the UCP. In 2017, Malanga founded a government-in-exile in Brussels and created the "New Zaire". In a proclamation he posted on social media before his assassination at the Palace of the Nation, Malanga declared the birth of a new Republic of Zaire, while his men replaced the flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo with that of Zaire (as the country was called from 1971 to 1997). In 2013, Malanga was appointed ambassador to the International Religious Freedom Roundtable, a Washington-based coalition of 52 non-governmental organizations. In 2016, he was part of a British-backed delegation of African leaders that traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia. The Americans arrested include Benjamin Reuben Zalman-Polun of Maryland and Cole Patrick. Both were business partners of Malanga in the medical cannabis and e-cigarette business in Mozambique, where they founded the company “CCB Mining Solutions”. Reuben Zalman-Polun was arrested in the USA in 2014 for drug trafficking. Given the track record and apparent presumption of the conspirators, it is not surprising that the Congolese media and social media are vying with a variety of theories about this real or alleged coup. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 20/5/2024)